Globe Live Media, Monday, January 25, 2021
It took the United States just over a year to go from one million to 25 million coronavirus infections.
That’s an average of around 67,934 new infections each day, or an average of one new infection every 1.2 seconds since January 21, 2020.
As infections continued to rise this weekend, so did the death toll. As of Sunday, more than 417,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.
The death toll in the United States could reach 569,000 by May 1, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington, although “42,800 lives will be saved with the launch of the projected vaccine.”
While some states have reported recent drops in their daily covid-19 numbers, the new variants of the coronavirus have many scientists concerned.
Biden seeks more vaccines produced
“First of all, it’s good news to see the curve bend a bit. We are still at a very high level of infections, “said Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University.
But I am very concerned about whether we will be able to sustain this or not. If we move fast with vaccines … then we can keep that curve down. But if the variants prevail first, that curve will rise again. And things will get a lot worse, ”he said.
So this is a race. Obviously, I hope we win.
Fauci: One of the new strains could be more deadly
A coronavirus variant called B.1,1.7, first identified in the UK, is one of the most concerning strains.
It has been detected in at least 22 states in the United States, according to data released Friday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The CDC cautioned that this strain appeared to be more easily transmissible and that the United States could see a “rapid growth” of its spread in early 2021.
A UK report released on Friday said there is “a realistic chance” that variant B.1,1.7 has a higher death rate than other variants.
“The data is increasing, and some of it I cannot share, that clearly supports that B.1,1.7 is causing more serious disease and increased deaths,” said Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. “We already know that this variant has increased transmission, so this is very bad news.”
Are vaccines against covid-19 useful for its variants?
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said it is certainly possible that this strain is more harmful.
‘We have to now assume that what has been predominantly circulating in the UK has some degree of increase in what we call virulence, that is, the power of the virus to cause more harm, including death,’ Fauci told CBS ‘ Face the Nation »this Sunday.
Research on the new UK variant is still in progress
Fauci noted that the research is still evolving.
“The information that came out was after they had been saying the whole time that it didn’t seem to be any more deadly, so that’s where we got that information from,” Fauci said.
The director of the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Francis Collins, said Saturday that it is still too early to know if variant B.1,1.7 is more lethal, and said the data is “very preliminary.”
“It seems that if you look at 1,000 people who were infected with COVID-19, usually around 1%, 10 of them, would die from it. Maybe with this virus, it would be 13 instead of 10, “Collins told MSNBC. “That is a small difference.”
He added that the increase in mortality could be a “consequence of the fact that the UK health system is really overwhelmed.”
“That also has an effect on mortality,” Collins added.
In the United States, Washington state health officials said they found the variant by testing samples in the state.
“We are now in the second half of the fight against this pandemic,” Washington Health Secretary Umair A. Shah said Saturday.
“It is very important for us to redouble our efforts to prevent this strain, as well as any strain, from taking over, because we want to make sure that transmission does not occur in our state and the best way to do it is prevention, prevention, prevention.”
The good news? Studies so far suggest that vaccines will also protect against variant B.1,1.7.
And that the same measures that can help prevent coronavirus infections in the past – wearing masks, social distancing, and frequent hand washing – also fight variant strains.
Why is a strain first detected in South Africa of concern?
At least two studies suggest that another variant, this one first detected in South Africa, could be problematic for vaccines.
In terms of vaccines, Fauci said the variant was “a little more concerning” than the B.1,1.7 variant first identified in the UK.
“It seems to decrease more … the efficacy of the vaccine,” Fauci told “Face the Nation” on Sunday.
“But we are still within that buffer level that vaccines are effective against these mutants,” he added.
Fauci said the research could evolve and preparations are already being made for the possibility that vaccines may one day need to be modified or improved.
The strain has been found in more than a dozen countries. But so far, it has not been detected in the United States, Fauci told “Face the Nation.”
“What has been examined so far has not come up in any of the surveillance activities,” he said. “But we need to greatly expand our genomic surveillance.”
21 million doses of vaccines administered in the United States.
CDC data shows that more than 21.8 million doses of vaccines have been administered nationwide, and more than 3.2 million Americans have received both doses.
Fauci said that if Johnson & Johnson’s vaccine is licensed for emergency use, the United States could see a significant increase in available doses by May. That vaccine only requires one dose, rather than the two required for the Moderna and Pfizer / BioNTech vaccines currently being administered.
“I would anticipate that in a period of probably no more than two weeks, the Data and Security Monitoring Board will review the data,” Fauci told MSNBC.
If the data is robust enough, the next step would be to submit it to the Food and Drug Administration for an emergency use authorization.
“Let’s say if … you get an Emergency Use Authorization in February, by the time they get a significant number of doses, it’s likely a month or two after that,” he said. “Once May, June, July, August rolls around, you will see a sharp escalation of additional doses of this single-dose vaccine.”
FDA Says “Modest Delays” Are Ok
Meanwhile, the FDA also told Citizen Free Press on Saturday that if absolutely necessary, “modest delays” between the first and second doses of current covid-19 vaccines are not expected to decrease protection against the virus.
The agency said it “recognizes that getting as many people as possible across the country fully immunized will help reduce the spread of the virus that causes COVID-19 and should be a priority.”
Previously, the FDA had warned that changes to vaccination schedules without adequate data could put public health at risk.
The CDC also updated its guidance to say that second doses of vaccines can be scheduled up to six weeks after the initial doses; if necessary, the addition of second doses should be given as close to the recommended interval as possible: three weeks after the first dose for the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine and four weeks for the Moderna vaccine.
Biden’s first 100 days
Dr. Vivek Murthy, appointed by President Joe Biden to the position of US Chief Medical Officer, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that the goal of 100 million doses in the first 100 days in office of the president is “a floor. It is not a ceiling.
Murthy said that Biden understands that the bigger goal is that “we have to vaccinate as many Americans as possible. And that is going to take a lot of work, work to dispel misinformation, work on supply, increase distribution channels, and that is something of what the vaccine plan that he announced last week is trying to achieve.
Murthy also told Stephanopoulos that Biden’s goal of opening most elementary schools in their first 100 days would require a lot of work.
“I know how important it is that schools are opened for parents, for the economy, for all of us,” Murthy told Stephanopoulos. “However, it will take a lot of work.”
Schools need clear guidance on how to reopen safely and the resources to do so, something many of them don’t have, Murthy said.
“If we give them the resources and the guidance, I think we can move towards reopening schools in a more secure way,” he said.
However, it will also be necessary to know the number of substantive cases in the communities, he said, something that everyone should be part of.
“We really are in the darkest days”
All of that comes as the United States continues to wage a brutal battle against the coronavirus.
More than 110,600 Americans are hospitalized with the virus across the country, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
Los Angeles County, the epicenter of the state covid-19 crisis, has surpassed 15,000 deaths from covid-19, health officials said Saturday.
And more than 6,800 people remain hospitalized with the virus, 24% of whom are in the ICU.
“While we are seeing some positive data in new cases and daily hospitalizations, we are far from out of the woods,” said Los Angeles County Public Health Director Barbara Ferrer.
“It is vitally important that we slow the spread of COVID-19 to decompress the strain on our healthcare system and save lives.”
In Georgia, a health care official described a grim picture of the virus’s grip.
“We really are in the darkest days of this pandemic,” said Dr. Deepak Aggarwal at Northeast Georgia Medical Center Saturday night.
“We are now seeing more than 200 patients a day, than we normally see at this time of year.”
“And also, we are dealing with a growing number of deaths,” Aggarwal said.
“Our system typically deals with fewer than 10 deaths per month.” But as of January 21 “we had already had 169 deaths.”
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